Helping young people through the Christchurch tragedy

March 17 2019 by RNZ National

Dr Johal is an expert in disaster mental health and in particular, helping children in the aftermath of tragedies.

He says while we cannot control the events that have occurred, we can choose our exposure to them, and many parents will have done this over the weekend. However once children are back at school, their world expands again, and they are likely to be exposed to more information and images from the Christchurch terror attacks.

He suggests parents and caregivers regularly check in with young people throughout the week, allowing an opportunity for children to share their fears and also check if they have been exposed to any misinformation.

As well as giving clear information about what actually happened, he says it is really important to focus on the helpers, those who rushed to assist, from by-standers to medical and emergency professionals.

"We have a duty to make sure that we present a world that isn't torn apart, this is a terrible terrible event, a horrific event but in the broader context of things we need to remember that there are many people working now, working at the time and will be working in the future to help assist and protect people going about their every day lives, so point them out."